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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 January 2004, 15:49 GMT
Met chief will lead Diana probe
Diana and Dodi

Britain's top policeman will personally oversee an investigation into the death of Princess Diana, Scotland Yard says.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir John Stevens confirmed he would take personal charge of the probe into the 1997 Paris crash in which she died.

Coroner Michael Burgess ordered the inquiry as he opened and adjourned an inquest into her death on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, another coroner, who saw Diana's post-mortem examination, said she was not pregnant when she died.

Dr John Burton told the Times newspaper he could tell the princess was not expecting a baby when he saw her womb.

"I was actually present when she was examined. She wasn't pregnant. I know she wasn't pregnant," he said.

And ex-police chief John Stalker says Prince Charles should be quizzed over a letter in which Diana reportedly said he was plotting to kill her.

The ex-deputy chief constable of Greater Manchester Police said the prince ought to be given the chance to deny the claim, apparently made in a letter Diana wrote about 10 months before she died.

The prince undertook his first public engagement on Wednesday after being identified as the subject in the letter, when he opened a breast cancer support centre in Hereford, and was met by a supportive crowd.

Even if she got pregnant the first time she met him... the baby would only be six weeks old at most - it doesn't stop everybody wanting to believe it
Dr John Burton

The princess and her boyfriend Dodi Al Fayed died after their car crashed in a Paris underpass in 1997.

Mr Stalker, who conducted an inquiry into the French investigation and believes the deaths were simply the result of an accident, said: "I believe Sir John should interview Prince Charles.

"It will be unprecedented, but it's an allegation by his former wife that he was planning to kill her.

"It is in everybody's interest that Sir John should put the allegation to Prince Charles so that he can formally deny it."

'Bizarre'

He added that Sir John would probably examine all the "more common" conspiracy theories, such as that the Royal Family feared Diana was to marry Dodi, a Muslim.

"I think Sir John will investigate every possible theory that is credible, you can't go chasing the thousands on the internet," he said.
It is in everybody's interest that Sir John should put the allegation to Prince Charles so that he can formally deny it
John Stalker

Conspiracy theorists have speculated that Diana's alleged pregnancy was a motive behind "plots" to kill her - claims dismissed as "bizarre" by Dr Burton.

Dr Burton, who was one of only two people at Diana's post-mortem, told the Times: "She had only met Dodi six weeks before.

"Even if she got pregnant the first time she met him... he shook hands and got her pregnant, the baby would only be six weeks old at most.

"It doesn't stop everybody wanting to believe it."

The British inquest will be the first time the UK authorities have formally probed the deaths.

Opening proceedings, Mr Burgess said: "I am aware that there is speculation that these deaths were not the result of the sad but relatively straightforward road traffic accident in Paris."

He adjourned the inquest for 12 to 15 months to allow time for the police to complete their inquiries, and to consider the vast amount of information from the French investigation.

graphic of the route Diana and Dodi took and the crash itself
Diana and Dodi's journey began when they left the Ritz hotel in a Mercedes driven by Henri Paul
They travelled west along the bank of the Seine and into the underpass beneath the Place de l'Alma
As the car entered the tunnel it struck the righthand wall
It then crossed two lanes of traffic and hit the 13th pillar supporting the tunnel roof
The crumpled vehicle then span round and came to a halt




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"Clarence House is keen to draw a credible line under the affair"



SEE ALSO
The theory about conspiracies
06 Jan 04 |  Magazine
'Diana and Dodi were watched'
15 Dec 03 |  Scotland

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